The Cincinnati Bengals were prepared to give the 49ers a fourth-round draft pick for the right to select Taylor Mays a little more than a year after the 49ers settled for significantly less compensation.The Bengals eventually acquired Mays and had to send the 49ers only a seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft.The 49ers sent out an email to all 31 other NFL teams early in training camp to announce that Mays was available in a trade. A couple weeks later, the Bengals and the 49ers hammered out an agreement that sent Mays to the Bengals.Mays is rounding into shape after missing a couple weeks with a knee injury. Coach Marvin Lewis declined to say whether Mays will be in uniform against the 49ers on Sunday.In 2010, the Bengals owned the No. 54 overall pick in the second round. They contacted the 49ers about trading the No. 49 overall selection. The teams would've swapped places in the second round, and the Bengals would've sent the 49ers their fourth-round pick for the right to select Mays."We're pleased," Lewis said of the trade that happened more than a year later. "We think it was a good thing for both teams. I think both teams are happy. They decided to sign more veteran players and we wanted to get a young player we could develop for our future here. So I think it was a plus for both clubs."Mays joins former 49ers defensive players Nate Clements and Manny Lawson with the Bengals. The fact the Bengals added Clements and Lawson was coincidental, Lewis said. But there was a clear reason the 49ers and Bengals worked out the deal that sent Mays to Cincinnati."In Taylor's case, I think Trent (Baalke) knew we had an interest in Taylor," Lewis said of the 49ers' general manager. "During the (2010) draft, we called them and asked if they wanted to trade their slot to us. And they ended up taking Taylor. We were going to do the same thing."Then-49ers coach Mike Singletary was Mays' biggest advocate in the draft room. But Jim Harbaughs new coaching staff did not believe Mays had the coverage skills to make a contribution. Now, the Bengals are eager to see how Mays can be utilized."He's got to get an opportunity," Lewis said. "Unfortunately for us, he sprained his knee in the last preseason game. So he has not been able to be full speed up until the end of last week. So he hasn't had enough practice time with us to understand."But we believe he has a good skill set, that he's a big man who can run. In the two preseason games he got an opportunity to play in here, he did a nice job of showing his range and coming up and being a physical player in the run support, and so forth, with good fits and leverage."
INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Ward made the transition from reserve safety to starting cornerback last season.
Where he lines up for the 49ers in 2017 has yet to be determined, coach Kyle Shanahan said on Wednesday.
“I’m not sure, yet,” Shanahan said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That’s something that’ll be discussed because I know that he’s capable of doing both. When we know our whole roster and our options in the draft, free agency, what’s he going to be best for us. But when you have a guy who’s capable of playing both, it gives you some freedom, which is nice.
“Any time you have a guy versatile like him, as a coach, it gives you more options. You just have to make sure whatever options you choose, you’re doing best by him and best by the team, also.”
Ward started eight games in his first two NFL seasons as the team's nickel back after being a first-round draft pick in 2014. Last offseason, the 49ers moved him to conrerback, where he started 10 games. Ward missed three games with a quadriceps injury and was placed on injured reserve late in the season due to a shoulder injury.
He could serve as a key piece in the 49ers’ new scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
“When you play a lot of cover 3, you do want that guy in the middle of the field to be very good player,” Shanahan said.
“When we look at overall roster and how it looks after free agency and the draft, and get Jimmie in and talk to him, that’ll help us make our decision.”
Shanahan said general manager John Lynch will also be involved in the decision. Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl performer as a safety with Tampa Bay and Denver. He was a Hall of Fame finalist.
“I’d love to hear John’s opinion, and that’ll be something we’re all talking about,” Shanahan said.
INDIANAPOLIS – With the expected formality of Colin Kaepernick opting out of his contract, the 49ers have no quarterbacks lined up for the 2017 season.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said he is lumping free-agents-to-be Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis into the same category with all the other quarterbacks who will be available for the 49ers this offseason.
“We don’t have anybody on our roster, so I throw them all in the category of everybody else who’s a free agent and the possibilities going into the draft,” Shanahan said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
”Those are the guys we’re comparing who you see in the free-agent market, who there is in the draft and trade possibilities and guys on the roster last year is who we’re picking from.”
The free-agent signing period begins on March 9. Over the next eight weeks, Shanahan will also be busy evaluating the crop of rookie quarterbacks – a process he is just now beginning, he said.
“I’ll spend this week getting to know these guys and watching a lot of tape back in the hotel room and have an idea of who everybody is, just from the interview process,” Shanahan said.